Genres: Contemporary, Humor, Manga, Romance, Young Adult
Leaving the noisy 4th Library, she steps in to Music Room #3, which is much quieter, Haruhi Fujioka is met by a group of handsome boys. The best looking in the school! These boys are the The Ouran High School Host Club. After accidentally breaks a vase, Haruhi must repay it in serving in the Host Club's activities as a Host! There's just one problem... Haruhi is a girl.
I thought that to usher in the school year, we’d look at a manga centering upon school life. But this isn’t your typical slice-of-life. This is Ouran High School Host Club.
Ouran High School Host Club was written by Bisco Hatori, and serialized in LaLa magazine, then in America in Viz’s Shojo Beat. The manga’s distribution extends to England, France, China, Austrailia, and even Singapore. It became excessively popular, and still has a fierce following in certain Anime conventions. An anime was released by Nippon Television in Japan, and Funimation in America, and while it lasts two seasons that are quite faithful to the manga, the final episode is an entirely new story that doesn’t appear in the manga. However, that doesn’t detract from the manga’s storyline. The story has also been adapted in to a live-action series.
But, let’s move on to the manga with a look at the cover! We see a wide-eyed youth carrying a bouquet of flowers, while in the background, a blue(violet?) eyed young man with blonde hair winks at the reader.
The manga starts with scholarship student Haruhi Fujioka. Haruhi comes from a very poor background (financially speaking only of course), and was accepted to the prestigious Ouran Academy by virtue of exceptionally high grades. When Haruhi wants to study one day, the poor student finds that the libraries are all full and noisy. So, Haruhi seeks the seemingly quiet Music Room #3. Upon opening the door, a group of handsome young men greet the scholar. These boys make up the members of Ouran’s Host Club. The Host Club’s sole purpose is to have handsome, rich young men, who have a lot of time, entertain lovely rich young women, who also have a lot of time. These boys encompass various ‘flavors’ and ‘types’ that girls like. They are:
1. Tamaki Suou- The ‘Prince’ Type, age 16.
2.Kyouya Ootori- The ‘Cool’ Type (also the ‘Glasses Wearing Character’), age 16.
3. Honey Haninosuka- The ‘Loli-Shota’ Type (Meaning cute, childlike sort), age 18.
4. Mori Morinozuka- The ‘Wild/Silent’ Type, age 18.
5. Hikaru and Kaour Hitachin- The Devilish Types, age 15.
Haruhi is of course overwhelmed by these strong personalities, and while attempting to leave in a flustered state, ends up knocking over a vase. The vase, being worth thousands of dollars, can’t be replaced easily. So, Haruhi is told to pay it off by working with the Host Club. After getting drenched on day one of repaying the debt, Haruhi’s frumpy sweater and trousers are exchanged for a suit, and with a quick makeover, they discover that Haruhi is quite good-looking! So, Haruhi is assigned as a Host- the ‘Natural’ type- to help entertain the girls who visit. This goes well for the next couple of days until another drenching accident leads to the discovery that Haruhi is actually a girl. Due to her lack of funds and concern for her appearance, and her focus on studying rather than impressing anyone, she just didn’t wear the girl’s uniform, and just went to school in something comfortable. However, since none of the Club’s patrons know about Haruhi’s true gender, it is decided that she will masquerade as a boy and continue paying off her debt.
But things get complicated when not only outsiders of the club become infatuated with Haruhi and the other hosts, but also when Tamaki, and Hikaru, become attracted to her (though it’s hinted that Kyouya also has an attraction, but he’s more interested in her brains than anything else).
I enjoyed this series because it wasn’t just about a bunch of cute looking young men, but because of the various relationships that arise and the stories that center around the Host Club. Each character has their arcs and their own journeys to go through, but none are more prolific than Tamaki’s journey from being just a pretty-boy with a rich family and complicated circumstances around his mother and father, but also about his growing appreciation for people in general. He learns that the world he came from is not the one that surrounds the majority of the people in Japan, or the world, and he learns to appreciate simpler and humbler pleasures.
In addition, Haruhi learns that not every person with more money and a ‘pedigree’ are stuck up or pretentious, and she grows to love and care for all of the Hosts as her dear friends. Though, I will note that she also does fall for Tamaki, she doesn’t let that love for him dominate her every choice, especially later in the series when she has to decide whether to stay in Japan with the boy she loves, or to take up a scholarship in America so she can achieve her dream of following in her mother’s footsteps.
There are so many plots and story-threads that I could touch on, and side characters that help the Host members either to grow or that the club teaches a lesson to, but that would take up a LOT of space. You folks will just have to go and read the manga yourselves. The Hosts, for their good looks, their good stories, and strong character growth, earn 5 stars.
Now if only I could find a blue blazer to make myself a Ouran cosplay.